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November 29, 2007



Given the shenanigans of bourgeois parents to get their kids into religious schools - when they can't be bothered to send them to Sunday school - and given the recent protestations about having to deal with gay people as fellow humans, it's hardly astonishing that many people of different religions and none are deeply suspicious of the moves to get a bigger slice of the welfare contracts pie.

After all, if the Freemasons were doing the same, do you think that would pass without murmur?

While I think your response is reasonable (I don't really it my shoulder to it, but you have written dispassionately and in a balanced way), this mistrust has to be addressed.

Who of us doesn't think Oxfam does good work? Yet if Oxfam were to run a homeless shelter, I'd worry about their overheads, money going into rebranding, and worry about how much the homeless people were getting from the taxpayer.

There will also need to be strict safeguards and publicly-available accounts, otherwise there will be suspicion that money was being diverted to the churches themselves, e.g., through topslicing for vestry admin etc.

While all who promote religious provision of welfarism think it's a good thing, we'd do well to remember that this isn't warranted by scripture. Charity is freely giving, not taking money from taxpayers on threat of imprisonment and letting other people spend it on a worthy cause while getting salaries for themselves. That's a job. It may be a worthy job, but it isn't in itself an act of charitable mercy.


While many of us will know genuine acts of charity performed by individual Christians, we will also remember the acts of sham charity performed in the main by Christian institutions, proselytising by offering shelter or food on condition that the recipient pray or read the Bible or some such.

Since some Christian institutions have 'form,' you'll need good PR. On the other hand, there are Christian agencies that are completely open and nondiscriminatory and good Samaritan, yet they are excoriated by some of their fellow Christians for not being fundamentalist enough and for having feeding the hungry as a priority rather than outlawing contraception (I'm thinking of Cafod here), so it'll need some good PR within the churches as well.

And a tone without self-righteousness. I've seen government documents that drone on about how 'people of faith' (remember 'people of colour'?) are better than other people at compassion etc.

Talk about the meek inheriting the earth... ;-)

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